Please bear with me as this is my first trip report. This will be the first of three I will be posting up today
I have been an avid reader of trip reports for years now, and since I have recently been traveling quite a bit, I thought it time to finally put some reports together and post them onto the site.
Date: 20 May 2011
Sector: New York (JFK) – London Heathrow (LHR)
Airline: Virgin Atlantic Airways
Scheduled times: 19:30-07:30
Actual times: 20:50-08:09
Seat: Economy 31K
G-VFIZ (MSN 764), named "Bubbles"
The time had now come for me to utilize my Continental OnePass miles, which had been sitting in my account for well over 2 years now. I thought of the many places that I could go, but ended up picking London. Even though I have been to London numerous times, my friends were on my case to come over and meet up with them. I figured why not, and took 2 weeks off of work and booked my ticket.
One of the main reasons I chose London was because I had enough points to make it to London as well as any place in the EU as well, all on miles. So off to Continentals website I went and booked my flight.
When it came to options on flight, I had the option of departing from Newark or JFK. At this point, all Newark flights were being operated by A340’s and JFK was a mix of A340-600 and 747-400’s. I decided to drive an hour away into JFK and booked myself onto a 747-400 outbound and a A340-600 return. That way I can add two aircrafts to my list of “flown aircraft”.
Fast forward to the date of departure-
I have been tracking which aircraft I would be flying on, and I see that they changed it at the last second. I talked a few people at Virgin and it looked like they did an aircraft swap at the last moment
I guess that was okay, but I really wanted to get onto a 747! I haven’t been on one for quite a while. Last time I flew on a 747 was back in the early 2000’s on PIA’s 747M and 747-300 from JFK – LHE.
As mentioned above, I used my Continental OnePass miles to book. Booking was easy as cake. Put in my dates, selected my flights and I was set. I had the option of flying Continental on 757’s or Virgin on 744/A346. The choice was obvious and I went ahead with my booking.
The one drawback of this was that Virgin Atlantic does not allow you to pre-select your seats. It must be done 24 hours before departure, which was a bummer, but I could live with it.
At the Airport:
The drive to JFK from my house today took just over 90 minutes. On a good day, it would only take 55, but since it was a Friday and the weather was beautiful, there was traffic.
Nothing we aren’t used to in this area, so I was fine with it. The only drawback was that it was cutting into my time at the airport and more importantly the Oasis Lounge.
I reached JFK terminal 4 and went straight to the Virgin Atlantic Check-In counter. This was a breeze. There was a line of about 10 people ahead of me, but the agents were swift and kept the line moving.
The lovely lady at the counter handed me my passport, carry on tags and boarding pass and wished me a good flight.
Service is one thing I was looking forward to throughout this trip with Virgin, as I have always heard good things about them
Earlier this year I signed up for Priority Pass. I don’t know if I am supposed to be promoting it, but if you travel, GET IT! It really does make all of my trips a lot more pleasant. Also, it gives us A.Netters access to lounges and many of these lounges (I have seen) have great views of the tarmac! Great for photo sessions!
Oasis Lounge is one of the 2 lounges Priority Pass has contracts with at JFK’s Terminal 4. The other being “The Lounge” I read some reviews and opted to go for Oasis Lounge, as it seemed to be the better pick between the two.
Went in, she swiped my card and I was in.
The lounge was nice. It was quite big and had great views and a good crowd. The only drawback I could think of was the presentation of the food. The options were Chicken Parmigiana, Samosa’s and something to do with Eggplant. They all were in this dark little corridor with the drinks stacked up across from them.
The food wasn’t bad, it just was not presented in a manner that made it all that appealing to me.
Boarding was quite organized. Loads on the flight were quite high, but I still lucked out with a window seat in the first exit row after Premium Economy.
The flight was scheduled to takeoff at 7:30, but there was a ground delay and we weren’t airborne until 8:50PM. The crew were very good with informing the passengers as to what is going on. The captain came on multiple times to let us know why we were on the ground. I thought it was nice that they cared enough to tell us what was going on. Been on way too many flights were we just sat there and nobody knew what was going on.
a) First Impressions:
The seat I had was very nice. The pitch was great and being an exit row seat, I had all the leg room I could ever want. The cabin was well lit, but for the majority of the time we were on the ground waiting to takeoff, the lights were still off. The sky had turned from bright and sunny to dark as the night came through.
The cabin crew were very nice. The young lady next to me wasn’t too happy that she couldn’t have anything in her hands during takeoff, but that is what she gets when she gets the exit row, isn’t it?
They also didn’t allow us to have our legs covered with blankets. Even though it was May outside, if felt like November inside! Quite chilly, but we were allowed to put the blankets on our shoulders.
My seat companion seemed to just be an angry young lady. She didn’t seem to want to talk about anything and had a fuss about anything and everything. Oh well…
b) Dinner Service:
At this point, I was getting quite hungry , as the delay had caused dinner service to be pushed to nearly 9:30 and I had only had one samosa and a single piece of chicken parm.
Dinner was appetizing. The starter salad was nice, and the chicken teriyaki I had was quite flavorful. Once again, they may not look it, but they did taste quite nice.
Our trays were picked up in a timely manner and it was now time to take a stroll around the aircraft as well as check out the in-flight entertainment.
c)In Flight Entertainment:
I took a walk around the cabin, and it was FULL! I didn’t really see any empty seats around. This could have been because there was a long weekend coming up and everyone had taken off, but it was quite crowded. I couldn’t tell otherwise because my seat was quite spacious and didn’t require me to look back lol
The drawback was the my IFE was HORRIBLE! The remote only scrolled up, the screen would turn white if it was moved and the touch just didn’t want to work!
I ended up taking out my iPad and watching movies I had downloaded onto that, as it was much easier to just do that than to fight with the screen and remote. Big disappointment on this one; I wonder if people complain about these things.
Landing – Arrival into Heathrow:
Even though we had taken off over an hour late, we made it into Heathrow on time! The landing wasn’t bad , and taxi time to the gate was quite short. Luckily! My luggage was already going around the baggage claim belt by the time I reached there. I had waited till the plane emptied out to go and meet with the captain and thank the crew. Also to let them know that the IFE wasn’t working, but otherwise the flight was very enjoyable.
All in all I really enjoyed my first flight on Virgin Atlantic and the A340-600. The crew was kind more or less throughout the flight. The delay was made up for in the air, so that didn’t make a difference to me. Just gave me another chance to see some more aircrafts out of my window while in line for takeoff. Food was presented as well as it usually is in economy and one thing I forgot… the dessert was great! I would definitely choose Virgin Atlantic again for my next flight out. I find that their level of service exceeds that of British Airways. Also, their hostesses are all quite attractive I will upload pictures shortly
I hope you enjoyed reading my trip report! Feedback is always appreciated